Shenise Johnson

Shenise Johnson has 17 points, 10 rebounds to lead Silver Stars to 70-64 win over Storm

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SAN ANTONIO — Without another All-Star in an injury-filled season, the San Antonio Silver Stars had a young player make big plays when needed.

Davellyn Whyte had 13 points and seven assists — both career highs — in her second career start in place of injured All-Star Danielle Robinson and the San Antonio Silver Stars held on for a 70-64 victory over Seattle on Sunday.

Shenise Johnson added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Silver Stars, who snapped the Storm’s three-game winning streak.

“Knowing that D-Rob hasn’t played a couple games, I know I have to step up,” said Whyte, in her second season.

“I have been watching her this whole year and filling in whenever she needs a sub. I have to go in there, keep my composure and run the team.”

Whyte had three points, going 3 for 4 on free throws while playing the entire fourth quarter for San Antonio, which is going for its seventh straight postseason berth.

Seattle (13-14) holds a three-game lead over San Antonio (10-17) for the Western Conference’s final playoff berth. They have split the regular-season series at 2-all entering their finale Tuesday night.

The Storm are without All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, but the Silver Stars are also missing a pair of All-Stars in Becky Hammon and Sophia Young.
Robinson, who played in her first All-Star game this season, has missed the team’s two previous games — both losses.

“Survival of the fittest, definitely,” Johnson said. “We are fighting, they are fighting. They are ahead of us in the standings and we are trying to get that tiebreaker against them.”

Danielle Adams and Jia Perkins each had 14 points for San Antonio, which snapped a two-game skid.

Reserve forward Noelle Quinn had 14 points to lead Seattle. Tina Thompson and Camille Little each had 11 points and Temeka Wright added 10 for the Storm.

“The better team won tonight,” Seattle guard Temeka Johnson said. “They came out with their business. They came out ready, and we weren’t.”

The Storm shot 36 percent from the field and were outrebounded by the smaller, but more aggressive Silver Stars.

After struggling to get their shots off in the first half, Seattle rallied in the second half behind a more aggressive approach.

The Storm pulled within 56-50 with 5 minutes left in the game behind an 8-0 run fueled by a turnover and a steal against the Silver Stars.

“I think that even when we made a couple of runs, they answered with either getting to the free throw line, hitting a couple of big shots, or getting an offensive board,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “They hurt us on the offensive glass quite a bit. That was the big difference.”

Whyte, Perkins and Johnson closed out the victory, going 7 for 8 on free throws in the final 3 minutes while scoring 11 points. Whyte had an assist on both field goals in that run.

“(Whyte has) got a presence about her, I felt that from the first day she was here,” San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said.

“I don’t think in any of our wildest dreams we thought she would be playing 32 minutes in a key game down the stretch. The girl has got something that says, ‘I’m here to play coach.’ I like that about her. Now we are leaning on her awfully heavy. Today was a good opportunity to watch her growth a little bit.”

With Quinn, Thompson and Shekinna Stricklen attacking San Antonio’s interior defense, Seattle went on an 11-2 run to pull within 48-42 with a minute left in the third quarter. The trio combined for 14 points in the quarter.

Whyte had an assist on each of the Silver Stars’ first three baskets as they raced to an 8-0 lead. She added a 3-pointer that gave San Antonio an 11-2 lead.
Robinson missed her second game after straining her right knee at Indiana on Aug. 21.

Seattle only attempted two shots on its first four possessions while committing a shot-clock violation and a turnover.

The Storm struggled to get a shot off against the Silver Stars’ aggressive defensive switches, finishing the first quarter 2 for 8. They also failed to get a single offensive rebound in the opening quarter.

“I thought the way we started out in the first quarter dug us a hole a little too big for ourselves,” Temeka Johnson said. “It came back to bite us. We need to take that from the game and look forward to Tuesday.”

The Storm’s shooting didn’t improve greatly in the second quarter, but they did have six offensive rebounds, including four on their third possession.


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(washingtonpost.com)
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Shenise Johnson’s jumper in final minute of OT lifts Silver Stars

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NEWARK, N.J. — The San Antonio Silver Stars recovered after giving up a big early lead and outlasted the New York Liberty to get a needed win.

Shenise Johnson’s jumper with 36.1 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Silver Stars to 78-77 victory over the Liberty on Sunday. Danielle Robinson scored 18 points, Danielle Adams had 16, and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 15 as San Antonio ended a four-game skid.

The Silver Stars (3-5) jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter before the Liberty slowly climbed back and tied it late in the second. San Antonio then pulled ahead by eight in the fourth quarter, only to have New York rally again and take the lead before the Silver Stars tied it in the final minute of regulation.

The Liberty also took the lead three times over the first 3 minutes of the extra period.

“Definitely proud of our effort, proud of the way we fought,” Robinson said. “We obviously let go of the (early) lead but the way we closed the game in regulation and in overtime ... we needed it and we buckled down and got it.

“I’m really proud of how we finished up.”

Cappie Pondexter had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Plenette Pierson scored 18 points for New York (4-3), which lost at home for the first time this season after opening with four wins. Pondexter also had seven of the Liberty’s 21 turnovers.

The Liberty had three chances after Johnson’s go-ahead basket, but Katie Smith missed two 3s, including one blocked by Jia Perkins with 1.9 seconds left.
“There were a lot of frantic possessions, but that last one,” Smith said, “(we) had some good looks, they missed, we come down, we get a look, I get a good look at one. Plenette gets a great rebound, (we’re) tossing the ball around, blocked shot, game over.”

New York also had a chance to win in regulation, but Pondexter’s jumper at the buzzer fell short.

Smith’s 3 had given the Liberty a 77-74 lead with 2:05 left in overtime, but they didn’t score again. After Robinson’s basket pulled the Silver Stars within one 10 seconds later, officials reviewed Smith’s jumper and confirmed it as a 3.

Pondexter and Kelsey Bone turned the ball over on New York’s next two possessions before Johnson’s winning basket.

“We love that we fight, we compete, we don’t give up, we battle,” Smith said. “But then we also realize if we just took care of the basketball a few more times, we didn’t give up that offensive rebound, we hit that shot, we’d walk out here with a win.

“A couple of things here throughout the game and things could be different.”

Johnson had a layup, and Robinson made a jumper to give the Silver Stars a 55-50 lead with 8:05 to go in regulation. Pondexter, however, made a layup and hit a 3 to tie the score less than 40 seconds later.

San Antonio scored the next eight points and led 63-55 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. New York rallied again as Leilani Mitchell hit a bank shot, and Kara Braxton made two layups to pull the Liberty within two with 3:41 left. Pierson’s three-point play 45 seconds later gave them their first lead since the game’s opening minute.


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(washingtonpost.com)
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Shenise Johnson scores 19 points to beat Sparks

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SAN ANTONIO — Dan Hughes wondered who would step up in the absence of his top two players, and the San Antonio Silver Stars coach got the answers he was looking for Saturday night.

Shenise Johnson scored 19 points, Danielle Robinson had 18 and the Silver Stars overcame a big game from Candace Parker in an 83-78 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday night.

Parker had 27 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Sparks (1-1), who had won three straight against the Silver Stars.

"A couple of times you could see we had to make a play," Hughes said. "We had to make a defensive play; we had to make an offensive play (and they did). This group is a new situation. Who do we play through, how do we work together? I was just pleased to see them handle that."

San Antonio is without injured All-Stars Sophia Young and Becky Hammon.

The Sparks pulled to 80-78, but Robinson was 4 for 4 on free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory for the Silver Stars. She had missed two free throws with 54.4 seconds remaining after being intentionally fouled by Parker, but Hughes opted to continue playing through his third-year guard down the stretch.

"I knew coming into this season that was going to be more of an expanded role for me, especially with Bec (Hammon) out," Robinson said. "You've got to be able to handle pressure, you've got to take it and enjoy it, and that's what I did tonight."

Jia Perkins added 14 points and Danielle Adams had 12 points for San Antonio (1-1), which was swept by Los Angeles in the opening round of last season's playoffs.

Lindsey Harding scored 18 points and Ebony Hoffman had 13 for the Sparks.

With Johnson leading the way, San Antonio's bench outscored Los Angeles' 36-19 to rebound from a 79-64 loss in its season opener.

"Coach, he murdered us this week (in practice) to be honest," Johnson said. "He murdered us and it showed on the court tonight. He was building our toughness. We came out and displayed that."

The Sparks had difficulty defending the second-year guard, who went 8 for 13 from the field against a series of defenders. Johnson had 12 points in the first half, including an open 19-foot jumper after Jenna O'Hea stumbled trying to defend a cross-over dribble.

"Shenise Johnson's ability to just go get buckets, for this just to be her second year in the league, she's playing like a vet," said DeLisha Milton-Jones, the former Sparks star in her first season with the Silver Stars. "If she can keep that aggressive mentality, it's going to benefit us in the end."

Parker kept Los Angeles within striking distance with an active first half. She had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks while playing 10 minutes in the first two quarters. One of the blocks came when the 6-foot-4 post ran down 5-11 Davellyn White from behind on a fast-break layup attempt.

"Candace Parker is just a handful," Hughes said. "At least in that regard we made her take 22 shots, but she's just a hard guard in situations."

Perkins scored the Silver Stars' first nine points as they raced to a 9-2 lead.

Harding had a jumper and a 3-pointer during a 7-0 run, to take a 13-12 lead with 4 minutes left in the first quarter.

Five different players scored as San Antonio opened the second half on 12-0 run that gave the Silver Stars a 57-52 lead.

Harding's layup broke a nearly four-minute drought for the Sparks, and sparked a 13-0 run that pulled them to 57-55.

"We were scoring, but so were they," Los Angeles coach Carol Ross said. "The tone was set in a negative way on the defensive end, and we were just in a fight and in scramble mode pretty much throughout the game."

Hammon missed her second straight game with a broken right middle finger. She sported a purple cast while sitting on the bench throughout the game.


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(therepublic.com)
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Shenise Johnson, Riquna Williams follow dreams to Europe

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Riquna “BayBay’’ Williams, fresh off her rookie WNBA season, is packing up her belongings in Tulsa, Okla., this week and heading to her new job in Kosice, Slovakia, a town known for the world’s second-oldest marathon and a 14th-century Gothic cathedral.

Shenise “Moe’’ Johnson, the San Antonio Silver Stars’ first-round pick in the April WNBA Draft, will soon be off to Sopron, Hungary, the birthplace of famous composer Franz Liszt.

Life as a professional basketball player is about to get really interesting (and a bit scary) for the former University of Miami stars.

Neither player has ever set foot in Europe. Each will be the only American on her team. Both expect to be homesick. But the financial reality of women’s basketball leaves them little choice if they want to pursue their passion.

The average WNBA rookie salary is $36,570, the league minimum for a veteran is $54,000 and the maximum is $105,000. The NBA league minimum, by comparison, is $473,604 and the average NBA salary is $5 million, compared with $72,000 for the WNBA. The WNBA season lasts only four months, so the vast majority of the players head overseas to make the bulk of their annual income.

Twenty-eight WNBA players spent last winter in the Turkish league. Other popular destinations for WNBA players are Israel and Russia. The European league pays American players a sixth-month salary ranging anywhere from $40,000 to $500,000 for superstars such as Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker.

Those paychecks come with a price, however. American players have to leave the comfort of their country to play far away from family and friends. They are typically the only American on their team, so there are language and cultural barriers to overcome. And there are long bus rides. Lots of them.

INTO THE UNKNOWN
Williams admitted last week she knows nothing at all about Slovakia or her new team. In fact, she didn’t even know the name of the team. Turns out she is playing for the Kosice Good Angels and is listed as the starting point guard on the team’s website. She will be playing alongside complete strangers named Lucia Kupcikova, Beata Jaoscikova, Tijana Krivacevic, Miljana Borjoric and Helena Sverrisdottin. Two are from Slovakia, two from Serbia, and one from Iceland. Williams has no idea if any of them, or their coaches, speak English.

“This is what I have to do to follow my dream,” Williams said. “At some point, if you’re a woman playing basketball, you have to go overseas. We really have no choice. I’m nervous, definitely. I have no idea what to expect. But I hear they take care of you, give you a nice apartment. I signed for only three months instead of six in case I get too homesick.”

Williams grew up in Pahokee and was known to get homesick during her four years at UM. Getting acclimated to life in Tulsa was no easy feat, but at least they have Applebee’s, Olive Garden and a cozy soul food place named Sweet Lisa’s. Slovakia will feel like Mars.

Johnson has traveled to Thailand with USA Basketball but never to Europe. She is joining a Sopron team whose roster includes Zsofia Fegyverneky, Sara Krnjic, Fanni Szabo, Vivien Borondy and Zsófia Licskai. The club finished runner-up in the Hungarian playoffs last season. That’s about all Johnson knows.
“I’m sure it will be rough the first couple of weeks, and I’ll feel really far from everything I know, but I’m excited to embrace the culture and learn,” Johnson said. “I’ll find a way to adjust. I’m a chameleon.”

That said, Johnson wishes she could stay on U.S. soil.

“Nobody wants to be forced to go live so far away,” she said. “It’s also hard on our bodies to have to play all year-round. We don’t get a four-month break like the guys do. But I’m doing what I love, and I’ll go wherever I have to.”

Williams and Johnson have both struggled at times this summer as they adjust to the WNBA game and new roles. Johnson started only one of 34 games for San Antonio (20-13), averaged 17.1 minutes, 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. Williams started three of 33 games for the Shock (9-25), averaged 20.3 minutes, 10.5 points and 2.1 rebounds.

“I haven’t been playing my best basketball at all, and that’s frustrating,” Johnson said. “I’m not playing as confident or as free as I did at UM. I have never had to come off the bench in my whole life, so that’s new.

“I’m also being asked to be a spot-up shooter here, and I’m used to creating. So I have to adjust to that. The half-court game is quicker in the pros. My coaches and teammates have confidence in me, so I have to try to relax and have fun and my game will come back.”

Johnson speaks to UM coach Katie Meier every few weeks and gets encouragement from those conversations.

“She tells me I’m at my best when I’m smiling and loose, and she says I look too quiet out there, she doesn’t see me being a leader,” Johnson said. “Being a rookie, I don’t want to step on any toes. I’m sure with time I’ll get more comfortable.”

Williams had a rough first half of the season but came around after the Olympic break.

“I’m not the superstar I was at Miami, I’m a rookie,” Williams said. “The game is faster, more intense and physical. My role at UM was to score. Now, it’s different, and it took time to get used to it.”

Tulsa assistant coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said the staff is very impressed with Williams and had no reservations drafting the feisty guard, who was suspended from the UM team for the 2012 NCAA Tournament for behavior detrimental to the team.

“I was very familiar with BayBay as a college player and know what her potential is,” McConnell-Miller said. “We did our homework, she took ownership of her behavior, and there hasn’t been a single incident on or off the court with us. Nobody outworks her, especially this last month. She is in the gym an hour before practice, and an hour and a half after. She is on the first bus over on game days. And she is practicing at game speed, which she wasn’t doing before. She is loved by her teammates. I’m really proud of her.”

A FALLING OUT
Williams left the UM team on bad terms, and does not keep in touch with Johnson. They have seen each other when their teams played, said quick hellos, but that’s it.

“It’s a job,” Williams said. “I can’t get caught up in the Miami stuff. We’re definitely not friends. We’re two different people, always were, and that’s fine. It doesn’t bother me. She does her thing, I do mine.”

Johnson said she tried to reach out, but Williams wasn’t interested.

“I have no ill will toward her,” Johnson said. “I think it’s sad how things ended. It would be nice if we could talk some time because we’re both probably going through the same rookie frustrations, but she obviously doesn’t want to have a relationship with me, so I have to treat her like just another player.”
One to Slovakia. One to Hungary. It’s a job.


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(miamiherald.com)
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Shenise Johnson Scores 8 In Overtime Win

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Throughout her WNBA career, Silver Stars forward Sophia Young has always made it a point to improve on some aspect of her game during the offseason.

If she struggles with her free-throw shooting during the season, it's a safe bet that she'll spend countless time in a gym somewhere working to fix the flaw. If she wants to extend her shooting range, the hours of working on her shot after practices pile up.

But the biggest impact that Young had on the Silver Stars' 98-85 overtime victory Saturday over Los Angeles had little to do with shooting range or shooting technique.

It was the former Baylor standout's focus and hustle before 8,234 at the AT&T Center that helped the Silver Stars (4-4) earn back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

“Sophia, I thought, played with an intensity that was infectious for us,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “I've benefited from watching a lot of Sophia's games, but that one really showed not only her offensive end, but her defensive end. She was incredibly active, and really led us in this situation.”

Young, who finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, had plenty of help.

Becky Hammon, who hadn't scored in double figures in the previous three games, also tallied 24. Danielle Adams added 18, Jia Perkins had 10 and rookie Shenise Johnson chipped in eight.

Perkins scored four of her points in overtime, helping the Silver Stars outscore Los Angeles 15-2 in the extra session.

“I knew they were going to be on Becky hard, so I wanted to look for my shot, be aggressive,” Perkins said.

The Silver Stars' dominance in overtime helped them bounce back from squandering a 78-70 lead with 31/2 minutes remaining.

The shorthanded Sparks (7-3), who were playing their third road game in four days, and second in as many nights, closed regulation with a 13-5 run, forcing overtime. They were without Ebony Hoffman and Nicky Anosike, who both are injured, and Nneka Ogwumike, the No. 1 pick in April's draft, who was attending her graduation from Stanford.

“I was incredibly proud of our team,” Sparks coach Carol Ross said. “I thought we had to overcome a lot of obstacles.”

Los Angeles' final hurdle — overtime — was one it couldn't navigate.

In defeating the Sparks for the sixth time in seven meetings, and the fifth in the last six games played at the AT&T Center, the Silver Stars scored the first 13 points in overtime.

A basket by Candace Parker, who finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, snapped Los Angeles' scoreless drought.

Alana Beard led the Sparks with 23 points. Kristi Toliver added 16 before fouling out, and Jantel Lavender totaled 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“I didn't think we closed the fourth quarter particularly well,” Hammon said. “We regrouped for the overtime. We came out and gave them another punch. It was a good all-around win for us.”


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(mysanantonio.com)
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